NORFOLK, Va. — Next time you stop in the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Gallery on the campus of Old Dominion University, you will likely spot someone on the loose.
"It is a stand-in for a human," said Cullen Strawn, Executive Director for the Arts at ODU.
Who - or what - he is referring to is "Gordon," a telepresence robot, sort of built like a Segway.
"People can visit the galleries without leaving their homes," Strawn said. "In fact, anyone anywhere in the world can."
In the age of COVID-19, the gallery was seeing fewer eyes on their exhibits, so they had to get creative.
"We had to start thinking on how to expand access," Strawn said.
It is a pretty novel - and futuristic - idea. You can sit at home or anywhere around the globe and even invite your friends or a group. Then, you control Gordon from your phone, tablet, or computer.
"It allows you when you move around the space, to zoom in on art on labels and so much more," said Strawn.
You can take pictures and even interact with humans in the art gallery through a speaker and built-in microphone.
The robot is linked to ODU's ticketing system. You can reserve a time to operate Gordon; it is $15 for 60 minutes for the general public, with discounts for ODU students and staff.
"It is very user-friendly, very easy and it's a lot of fun to move an object through a remote location," Strawn said.
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This story was first published by Chelsea Donovan at WTKR.